Those of us who ride the bike path or drive on Admiralty Way can’t help but notice Marina del Rey’s sleek waterfront library. The original building was erected in 1976 by the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors. Most patrons check out the books and Hollywood DVDs, but the library holds a hidden gem in the back that overlooks the boat basin, the William R. Pagen Nautical Wing.
This wing was added in 1999 due to the work of the Marina Foundation, the Board of Supervisors and the County of Los Angeles Public Library. The building was renamed the Lloyd Taber-Marina del Rey Library by the Board of Supervisors to honor the main donor to the project.
Despite the building's deceptively small size, it houses 72,935 books, 12,300 video and audio titles, 87 magazine and newspaper subscriptions, and other special materials. Patrons can get access to all of the county’s circulating books through the branch. The entire library has free Wi-Fi access throughout for any county resident with a library card.
“We have a superb nautical collection,” librarian Chuck Johnson said.
Winona Phillabaum, the community library manager gave me a tour.
“We have something for everybody here,” she told me, “from the amateur boater to the professional.”
The maritime collection is impressive and includes 5,135 circulating and reference books like Jane’s Ships, the Encylopedia of Ships and Seafaring and Adventures Afloat.
Phillabaum is particularly proud of the branch’s collection of charts, all stacked neatly in surprisingly good shape, for examination on a well polished chart table. The're a large globe to put the ocean's worldly dominance in perspective.
The library subscribes to 33 periodicals that covers the full spectrum from Motor Boating to Sailing World.
Nautical fiction includes traditional yarns of tall ship derring do like C. S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower series and Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander on the Far Side of the World.
There are also books for kids.
“For children, the stories tend to be about pirates,” Phillabaum said.
Phillabaum showed me the nautical wing’s selection of 830 videos packed with not only Hollywood swashbucklers, but an extensive selection of how-to-videos ranging from boat care to sailing basics from local distributor Bennett Marine.
At this point there are more VHS tapes than DVDs. Phillabaum explained that not all of the videos on tape had been digitized, but the library was working on expanding its DVD collection.
As I gazed through a window at the moored boats beyond, Phillabaum pointed out that the window was designed to resemble a sail. It’s a great place to read and write. In fact, I did this story here. The Lloyd Taber-Marina del Rey Library is well worth a visit.